With all the progress and development that globalization and mechanization of agriculture has brought in last two decades, there is an increasing amount of deterioration of indigenous economy. The country has seen over a quarter million farmers’ suicide between 1995 and 2010. Increasing cost of production and falling price of farm commodity has been the major reason for the pervasiveness of this problem.
With increasing mechanization, and corporate farming on one hand, there is a massive disguised unemployment and increasing urbanization on the other, created a dearth of new trained famers interested in cultivating the land. All these factors have converted the positive economic significance of agriculture in our economy to a negative one.
The main reason for farmers’ suicide is indebtedness. With increasing cost of production and dependence on monsoon, it force farmers to borrow money from the money lenders. This money lenders often exploit the poor illiterate farmers by charging high rate of interests. This rate is generally more than 30% per year. The pressure of repaying the loans with such high rate of interest becomes almost an impossible task for them. And under the fear of humiliation to the family and distress they commit suicide. Loans from the agricultural bank are still a distant dream for most of our poor and illiterate farmers.
2. Crop Failure
In India even today majority of the farmers depend on monsoon for irrigation. Drought, irregular or incessant rains causing floods are all factors which causes massive crop failure. The new variety of seeds are prone to pest attacks, and high cost of insecticide and pesticide further make the crop vulnerable to such attacks resulting in destruction of crop..
3. High Input Cost
With green revolution and intensive farming, farmers are aiming at high per hectare yield. This is possible only with chemical fertilizers, high yielding variety of seeds, huge amount of power, tractors etc. These facilities often cost a gigantic investment from the farmers. Small and medium level farmers cannot afford this amount. Also the subsidy on fertilizers and other raw material has reduced due to privatization of its production. All these leads to a high input cost on the part of farmer to produce a decent quantity of yield.
4. Lower Price for Farm Commodity
After this huge amount of investment, and if the crop is cultivated successfully saving it from failure, than too the return on the farm commodity is not sufficient. Several middlemen exploit the farmers, by giving them low price for their product. Government often declares a minimum support price for crops which is much lower than its input cost. To bridge this wide gap between the cost of production and the returns becomes a herculean task for the farmer and the pressure often takes away his life.
5. Lack of Government Aid and Relief Package
Government in the run for getting away from its responsibility has privatized most of the sectors in the economy. Private owners aim for maximizing their profit ignoring the welfare of the people. Lesser agricultural banks which can give credit loans to farmers further make them vulnerable. Relief packages which are often announced for the farmers in the drought prone areas or flood prone areas never reach the real deprived group and often the local corrupt administrators misuse this amount for their petty interest.
6. Monoculture and Corporate Farming
Uniformity of crops and specially cash crops has destroyed the eco-system in the fertile areas. The land due to excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, have become barren and arid turning in a non-productive piece of land. Pressure of producing genetically modified crops apart from being an expensive affair has further increased the gap between the rich and poor farmers. Compelling the poor farmers to end their life with no resources to continue as a farmer.
There is an urgent need for government intervention to tackle this issue. The solution lies in liberalizing the strict control of middlemen and money lenders on farmers. The famers will adopt the organic farming providing they are given support and subsidies for the same. They should be given direct access to market to sell their products to get the fair price for the commodities.